Indie bookstores find innovative ways to thrive with online, pop-up and subscription models
This hour on Where We Live, we look into strategies that build resilience in local bookstores and discuss pandemic book launches. Long-time indie bookshops continue to stay afloat and even thrive despite the ongoing pandemic. Amazon controls more than half of the market for print books and at least three-quarters of publishers’ ebook sales.
We also talk to booksellers about trends, including eliminating or reducing inventory-holding costs by selling on Bookstore.org –the Amazon for indies.
The American Booksellers Association (ABA) lists the top five trends for indie bookstores in 2022. According to the ABA, nationally, 250 indie bookstores opened, and 98 closed in 2020 and 2021.
The ABA’s Ray Daniels told Where We Live:
“Trends we continue to take note of include; an increase in the number of BIPOC-owned stores; an increase in the number of stores owned by Black women; continued experimentation with store formats – new models like pop-up stores, mobile stores, and fluidity between formats. Stores are moving from brick-and-mortar to online then to pop-up, or from pop-up to brick-and-mortar, or brick-and-mortar opening additional pop-up locations.”
Here is a list of Connecticut's indie bookstores:
- Barrett Bookstore, Darien (since 1939)
- Hickory Stick Bookshop, Washington Depot (since 1951)
- Breakwater Books, Guilford (since 1972)
- Atticus Books, Middletown (since 1975)
- Bloodroot, Bridgeport (since 1977)
- Books on the Common, Ridgefield (since 1984)
- RJ Julia, Madison, (since 1990)
- Bank Square Books, Mystic (since 1998)
- Book Trader Cafe, New Haven (since 1998)
- Elm Street Books, New Canaan, (since 2003)
- A New Page, Middletown (since 2003)
- Burgundy Books, Old Saybrook (since 2005)
New bookstore openings in Connecticut include:
- Title IX: A Bookstore, a pop-up bookshop in New London
- The Key Bookstore’s brick-and-mortar bookshop in Hartford
- Athena Books in Old Greenwich
- Pink Wave Books & Cafe (online)
- Wordsmith Bookshop, scheduled to open in Simsbury in May
- Reader's Block, opened in Stratford
- Book Club on the Go (online, pop-ups, book delivery)
- New York’s Shakespeare & Co., expected to open its first Connecticut bookshop in Norwalk.
- Also, plans are underway to launch Next Chapter Books and More, an ELITE (Educating Learners In Transition Environment) Program’s student-run bookstore and coffee shop in Trumbull.
Several of the new bookshops sell to under-represented communities, and all are focussed on building a local third space. We discuss the ‘doing well by doing good’ indie business model. Will it endure?
We also look into store closures and fundraisers to keep indies open. That Book Store in Wethersfield and Elliot’s Bookstore in Northford are among those that shut down, while fundraisers are underway to reopen New Haven’s Never Ending Books, and to keep Bennett’s Books in Deep River open.